P.E.I. Potato Board heralds environmental record

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This graphic depicts water use in P.E.I.

The P.E.I. Potato Board says it’s time for the public to move past the history and look at what today’s potato growers are doing to protect the environment.

Gary Linkletter, chairman of the P.E.I. Potato Board, emphasizes that “potato farmers of today have learned a lot from past challenges and are making tangible changes in production practices in order to farm in a more environmentally sustainable fashion.”

In a news release, Linkletter says P.E.I. farmers have the highest level of enhanced environmental farm planning in Canada and also farm under the most stringent environmental legislation in Canada.

“This means P.E.I. potato growers meet and often exceed both voluntarily developed and regulated standards that are higher than any other farmers in the country,” said Linkletter.

Through collaborative effort between potato growers and the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture, construction of soil conservation structures has resulted in 1.1 million feet of terraces, 2.1 million feet of grassed waterways and 270,000 feet of farmable berms.

Potato growers also use a wide range of other tools to improve environmental sustainability, Linkletter said.

The approaches include use of buffer zones and set aside of sensitive land, nutrient management, strip cropping, crop rotation and residue-tillage equipment, new and lower input potato varieties and integrated pest management.

Another initiative, Farming 4R Island, partners with other industry players to foster beneficial management practices that protect soil quality and reduce nitrate levels.

“Today’s grower is looking to be more efficient, more effective and be more environmental responsible. That’s why we’re interested in supplemental irrigation. The Department of the Environment has indicated that agricultural irrigation accounts for only one per cent of total water usage,” said Linkletter, as he and the potato board continue lobbying for deep-water wells in the province. 

“Some preliminary studies performed as part of the nitrate pilot project with the Kensington North Watershed Group in 2013 showed an 11.5 per cent increase in income per acre with supplemental irrigation due to increased marketable yields, while another test from the same study showed a reduction in average residual nitrate levels by 31.4 per cent. That’s very encouraging information for people interested in having a viable potato industry while trying to be even more environmentally responsible.”

Organizations: P.E.I. Potato Board, P.E.I. Department of Agriculture, Kensington North Watershed Group

Geographic location: Canada

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  • UPWESTER
    March 21, 2014 - 16:12

    If farmers have learned a lot from past challenges, then why are we still having yearly fish kills? Also, if they protect the land like they say they do, why do we need deep water wells? Simply, because Cavendish Farms say they do. The quality of the land is so poor, it hardly suports the growth of potatoes, let alon bigasize french fries.

  • Oh Really
    March 21, 2014 - 16:02

    Gary Linkletter, chairman of the P.E.I. Potato Board, emphasizes that “potato farmers of today have learned a lot from past challenges and are making tangible changes in production practices in order to farm in a more environmentally sustainable fashion.” Seems he conveniently forgot to include the sentence, "so long as we make more money " If we "forget" the past, as they hope we will, it'll only be repeated!

  • Maureen Kerr
    March 21, 2014 - 15:55

    Poor land stewardship on PEI: rivers running red, exploding nitrate levels, anoxic estuaries, shellfish closures, fish kills, ecosystem degradation. This advertorial isn't fooling anyone. Get real info on deep water wells at PEIwater.com

  • Not Swallowing It
    March 21, 2014 - 14:18

    The potato board has one interest and one interest only, that's money. This is a bunch of bull. The industry is destroying the soil and the water and I fear for what's left of our water if people don't start to speak out and speak out LOUD!

  • Tired Taxpayer
    March 21, 2014 - 13:36

    I can not get past the fact that for years potato processing plants have been dumping millions of gallons of waste water in Northumberland Strait and NO ONE can get an honest answer from government OR these plants .The PEIFA has a big dog and pony show every year where they go to the end of the outfall pipe and take the water temperature !They should be checking the SALINITY of the water as lobster can not survive in brackish water .Look at the potato flake plant in souris ,when they stopped pumping water there when the plant closed lobster came back. I know I waste my time saying this, as I have for about 20 years, because government does not want to hear it and at the end of the day government owns and runs the PEIFA.

  • francis cash
    March 21, 2014 - 12:42

    Linkletter Farms web site says farm grows 1500 acres of potatoes. If the average size field was 30 acres this would mean 50 deep water wells four this farm alone. Now lets look at the big picture 80.000 acres on PEI under irrigation do the math water water everywhere and not a drop to drink!!!

  • Mitch MacKinnon
    March 21, 2014 - 11:40

    I didn't see a byline on this article on your web version of The Guardian Newspaper. Does this mean that Gary Linkletter is now a staff reporter for your newspaper?

  • Joe Smoe
    March 21, 2014 - 11:26

    I used to fish streams on this island that do not exist anymore. Streams filled in with runoff from potato fields. Nearly every heavy rain we have results in fish kills. They are destroying our water supply and our health. Nothing is going make me believe the potato industry is doing anything to improve anything but their profits.